Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
The North West Vietnam Photo Tour is designed by Arnaud Foucard, a French Photographer who has been in Vietnam since 2000. He has visited many places in Vietnam and added thus in this package such highlights: Hanoi animated streets and architectural heritage; The traditional village of Duong Lam; Mu Cang’s rice terraces, a Vietnam National Heritage site; Sapa’s beautiful surrounding areas; Encounters with diverse ethnic minority groups; The Sunday ethnic markets of Y Ty and Muong Hum.
DAY 1: ARRIVE HANOI
Arrival day in Hanoi. For those who arrive early, we will go on an orientation tour around 3:30pm, followed by a photo review. Dinner to get acquainted with all participants and presentation of our journey from Hanoi to the Chinese border
DAY 2: HANOI PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
We will start the day at the Long Bien Bridge, designed by Eiffel. Reserved for two-wheeled vehicles and pedestrians, as well as the train passing in its center, this bridge is taken every morning by thousands of provincials coming to sell their products in the city, or on the Long Bien market situated just underneath it. We will then go walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, where Hanoians enjoy doing their physical exercises, and continue our exploration in the bustling 36 old streets and guilds of the old quarter. In the afternoon, we will walk up Phan Dinh Phung Street, which boasts Hanoi’s most beautiful colonial houses and several official buildings, and will pass by Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum before reaching the magnificent Temple of Literature. Dinner and night in Hanoi.
DAY 3: HANOI -> DUONG LAM -> MU CANG CHAI
We will leave Hanoi early in the morning to reach Mu Cang Chai in the late afternoon. On our way, about 60km from Hanoi, we will visit the traditional village of Duong Lam with its two-century old houses, reflecting how the Red River villages used to look like in the past. As we’ll move forward to our destination, the sceneries will become more and more spectacular, crossing stunning hilly landscapes, corn and manioc fields, tea plantations and after reaching Nghia Lo, we’ll come upon our first rice terraces. Dinner and homestay with a Thai family.
DAY 4: MU CANG CHAI PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
Mu Cang Chai holds some of the most impressive rice terraces in the country and is listed as a Vietnam National Heritage site. Throughout the day, we will have plenty of occasions to observe the H’mong people going about their daily lives and working in the fields. In the morning, we will visit Lao Chai village, and in the afternoon the La Pan Tan “Rice Canyon”. If the time permits, we will also visit the beautiful rice fields of Che Cu Nha. Dinner and homestay with a Thai family.
DAY 5: MU CANG CHAI -> SAPA
We will head for Sapa by going through the plains formed by Nam Na River. On our way, we will stop in a traditional Thai village overlooking a large rice field and surrounded by enormous bamboos groves. The road from Than Uyen to Sapa is superb, meandering through hills covered with tea bushes until reaching Tram Uyen passage, dominated by Fansipan Mountain, culminating at 3143m. We will make numerous stops along the way to capture these magnificent landscapes. Sapa, also called “the city in the clouds”, is an old climate station renown during the French colonization for its pure fresh air. Dinner and night in Sapa.
DAY 6: SAPA -> MUONG HUM
We will spend the morning strolling through the beautiful landscapes of Sapa Valley. We will then head towards Muong Hum with its equally breathtaking sceneries, alternating rice fields and ridged mountain passages, where we will see the activities of the ethnic minorities of the region: a lot of photo stops are to be expected on the way! Dinner and homestay with a Giay family
DAY 7: MUONG HUM -> Y TY -> MUONG HUM
We will start the day by heading to the weekly market of Y Ty, situated just across China, on the other side of the valley. The road to it as well as the encounters with the local population will inspire you. The market offers a multitude of colourful costumes and headcoverings from various ethnic groups, such as the Ha Nhi, Phu La, White Hmong…We will spend the afternoon discovering the mountainous landscapes and small villages surrounding Y Ty. Dinner and homestay with a Giay family.
DAY 8: MUONG HUM -> LAO CAI -> HANOI
We will wake up just next to the multicolor market of Muong Hum, which takes place every Sunday. Muong Hun is home to the Giay people, whose women wear flashy, colorful shirts. They are well-tried traders, as they serve as intermediaries between the mountain ethnic groups and the Vietnamese living in the valley. We will meet with many other minorities such as Black Hmongs, Red Dao women wearing their conical hats, Ha Nhi people or White Hmongs. We will take one last stroll before leaving for Lao Cai, where we’ll take a night train to Hanoi.
DAY 9: ARRIVE BACK HANOI
Upon arrival, we’ll freshen up with a little shower and have our last breakfast together. We will then proceed to a photography review, a Lightroom tutorial and debrief of our journey, before bidding each other farewell.
This tour takes place twice a year. We hold the first tour during the season of rice-transplantation, when rice terraces fill up with water, allowing young sprouts to show off their fluorescent green colors. The second tour follows the harvesting season, when the rice fields display their golden colors. During these two crucial periods of the rice cycle, cultivators spend their whole day working the fields, to the photographer’s delight… When we’ll be out of the rice fields, it will be to explore the various villages and markets of the region.